For most fantasy leagues Week 14 either means it’s playoff time or it’s the last week of the regular reason. Regardless, it’s extremely important to make sure you field your best available lineup, which especially applies to those key players who are listed on their respective team’s injury report. To that end, here’s what we know about the status of those who line up in the backfield.
Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers
It’s the news Steeler fans and Roethlisberger owners have been waiting to hear for about a month – Big Ben is back. After missing the past three games recovering from the rib and shoulder injuries he suffered in Week 10 against Kansas City, Roethlisberger be back in there under center this afternoon against San Diego. While the Steelers went 1-2 during his absence, don’t underestimate Roethlisberger’s value. In the eight full games he played prior to the injury, the Steelers averaged 23.9 points per game. In the three he missed, their point production dropped to 15.7. It’s not a bad matchup for him to come back for either, as the Chargers are 21st in the league in passing defense and in the middle of the pack when it comes to fantasy points scored by opposing quarterbacks.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons
Stewart went down with an ankle injury in the Panthers’ Week 12 win in Philadelphia. Once it was classified as the dreaded high ankle sprain, no one was surprised he missed last week’s game in Kansas City. He didn’t practice all week, so there’s no reason to believe he will suit up today against the Falcons. That leaves lead back duties to DeAngelo Williams, who could be an intriguing fantasy option against the NFL’s 20th-ranked rushing defense. He didn’t do that much against the Chiefs last week (12 att., 67 yds.), so I would temper my expectations and only take a chance on Williams as a flex or if you don’t have any better (healthier) options at running back.
Beanie Wells, RB, Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks
Poor Beanie, he can’t seem to stay healthy. After going on injured reserve earlier this season due to a severe turf toe issue, Wells returned two weeks ago and scored twice against St. Louis. However, he’s gained a total of 70 yards on 32 carries (2.2 ypc) in two games since returning and was a limited participant at practice due to a knee issue. He is listed as Questionable for the game in Seattle, but chances are pretty good he will play. That said, I wouldn’t rely on or trust Wells unless you were desperate. Besides his injury-prone nature, he’s been largely unproductive this season, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry, and he’s going up against the Seahawks on their home turf. For the season Seattle is 12th in rushing defense and the Seahawks seem to take their play to another level in front of the home crowd at CenturyLink Field. Wells is not 100 percent well when it comes to his health, so I think you would do well by leaving Wells on your bench.
Other notable running back injury updates:
Michael Bush, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings – listed as Questionable (ribs), did not practice until Friday and was limited. Between his uncertain status and the mere presence of Matt Forte, who has gotten the vast majority of the carries when’s he beeon the field, I would avoid using Bush if at all possible.
DeMarcoy Murray, Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals – listed as Probable (foot), limited in practice this week but this was reported to be a team decision for precautionary reasons only. He may not get a full workload, but there’s no reason to not start him.
Michael Turner, Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers – listed as Questionable because of an elbow injury. He was limited in practice, but is expected to play against the Panthers. May want to keep an eye on him to make sure there are no late developments leading up to game time, but the bigger concern is probably how the carries will be distributed between Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers.